Trade unions targeted London Fashion Week today in protest against alleged abuses of employees by one of the event's key sponsors.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU), UNI Global Union and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have accused parcel firm DHL of anti-union discrimination and the exploitation of agency workers in its overseas operations.
London Fashion Week is seen as one of the jewels in the industry's crown, attracting visitors from around the world but unions warned that there was a murkier side to the star-studded event.
They expressed serious concerns over the way DHL is alleged to have behaved in some of the countries in which it operates.
They claimed that in one incident in Turkey the firm sacked over 20 workers after they sought to unionise.
The unions said DHL used lie detectors against workers in Colombia, Panama and South Africa in recent years and has used agency workers in Britain, Malaysia, Indonesia and India to do the same work as permanent employees but on inferior wages and with no job security.
One of DHL's subsidiaries was fined after apparently using students to staff a factory.
The students thought they were travelling to the US on a cultural exchange.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said that DHL was a leading global company and should be setting high standards.
He said: "As a key sponsor of London Fashion Week it basks in the glamorous flashlights of catwalk fashion and celebrity beauty, yet the way it treats many of its staff is ugly.
"The company's public image does not match the reality experienced by its workforce and we urge it to have a makeover to improve employee rights."
The high-profile protest saw two models in couture crafted out of packaging materials parade outside the opening day of the event, accompanied by unions leaders and campaigners.
UNI Global Union general secretary Philip Jennings said: "An ethical and sustainable fashion industry must include all parts of the supply chain.
"DHL, as part of that supply chain, needs to clean up its act and respect workers' rights in Turkey and around the world."
And ITF global head - supply chain and Logistics Ingo Marowsky added: "While DHL struts its stuff on the world fashion stage, we will be making sure the darker side of its operation is on parade too."
The unions also distributed leaflets to visitors to the event highlighting the alleged abuses and calling on them to back the campaign.
However DHL rejected the claims. A spokesperson for the company said: "The allegations brought by the ITF and UNI global federations date back to a paper published in May 2012. The majority of these allegations have since been resolved or are currently being dealt with within the respective national legal procedures. Deutsche Post DHL respects national law and practices. However, many of the claims made by UNI and ITF are in our opinion inaccurate. The company respects the rights of its employees around the world and all employees, irrespective of their level, have the right to join or not to join a union of their choice, free from threat or intimidation. In addition, we work closely with employee representatives and the unions and engage in regular dialogue with representatives of the global union federations including ITF and UNI."
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